Have a right to be heard

Dear Editor,

I am writing this letter with regard to the Halkirk 2 Wind Energy Project as I am hearing some inaccuracies regarding some of the events that have happened over the past few years.

The County of Paintearth council announced they were pleased that the Court of Appeal ruled in their favour on a couple of points.

 In fact, the Court of Appeal threw out the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) decision and said that there does have to be a new SDAB hearing. 

Meaning that contrary to what County of Paintearth council claimed, affected residents of these projects do in fact have the right to be heard and also have the right to procedural fairness.

On the County of Paintearth website, the decision by the Alberta Court of Appeal states that the people who appealed some of the wind turbine generators to the SDAB are opposed to the project. 

Possibly the Court of Appeals interpreted our concerns for the opposition, but to say we are opposed to the project is still a factually incorrect statement. 

In fact, the residents within the project got together and wanted to have this project move forward without the stress, mental anguish and division within the community that it has created.

At the open houses held in Halkirk and Castor prior to all this, both the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) and the Farmers Advocate stated the best possible solution to deal with the stress and community divisions that these projects are known to create within communities both in Canada and around the world is for the affected residents, project owner and local government to get together and come up with some type of solution prior to the project moving forward. 

County of Paintearth council was represented at these open houses so was well aware of the residents concerns.

The affected residents of the Halkirk 2 project did just that, deciding that while a 1000m setback for non-participants would be a compromise the community as a whole would be better off and was willing to deal with the situation. 

Council passed a first reading of this 1000 meter setback in February 2016 but when Capital Power sent a letter to County of Paintearth Council on April 1, 2016 stating that with a 1000m setback for non-participating residents this project, and in fact all other projects, may not go forward. 

This has since been proven to be a factually inaccurate statement.

In response to this 70 per cent of the affected residents signed a petition asking council not to change the 1000m setback that had passed first reading.

County of Paintearth council decided to believe Capital Power’s letter and went with a 750 setback for non-participants. 

County of Paintearth council has stated that the 750m is a compromise between the old setback of 500m and the request for a 1000m setback, which is not true. 

The 1000m request was already a compromise between a 1500m setback that a number of residents wanted for non- participants and 500m setback for participants but council decided to give Capital Power everything they asked for and made the setback 750m for non-participants

I have to stress that the non-participants were not anti-turbine, but just wanted Capital Power to address their concerns and in fact, make them participants. 

It must also be noted that some residents who were in discussions with Capital Power over contract concerns were also then told by Capital Power we no longer have to talk with you as County of Paintearth council gave us the setback we asked for.

 

Terry Vockeroth

Halkirk, Alta.

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